What to expect from AI in ’24

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Liz Centoni, EVP, Chief Strategy Officer and General Manager, Applications at Cisco, shares seven AI-related predictions—what’s coming and how organizations can not just cope but thrive in 2024.

In just the past year, artificial intelligence’s impact accelerated in startling ways. And many businesses are struggling to catch up. In fact, the recently released Cisco AI Readiness Index reveals that only 14% of organizations are fully prepared to integrate AI. Given this unrelenting pace of change, what can business leaders expect from AI and other emerging technologies in 2024? And what steps can they take to meet the challenges around the bend? Along with insights from the AI Readiness Index, here are my predictions, prognostications and proactive steps for 2024:

APIs counter complexity—and unlock AI for business

AI is transforming the way businesses work and compete. But for many, it’s not happening fast enough. In the AI Readiness Index, only 27% of respondents reported that their organizations had prioritized AI in their budgets. Part of the reason is that building AI systems from scratch is costly and time-consuming. And AI complexity is daunting, especially when it comes to integrating the many AI-powered tools, services and solutions. Application programming interfaces (APIs) can be the difference. By integrating existing workflows and processes, APIs offer a shortcut to AI adoption. In 2024, expect APIs to continue to simplify and accelerate the use of AI for businesses of all sizes and sectors.

For ethical AI, governance is imperative

AI promises no end of amazing benefits, but only if we get it right. That means AI that’s ethical, responsible and aligned with human rights. Yet 76% of organizations don’t have comprehensive AI policies in place. And current regulations and industry self-policing don’t go far enough—for example, in areas like IP infringement and co-opting creative works. Adoption of AI is sitting at the intersection of innovation and trust, and in 2024, building trust with consumers about their AI-powered solutions and services will be a business imperative. So, expect more companies of every size and sector to spell out their AI governance policies and create transparency in how data is being used.

AI generates scams and misinformation. It will also counter them.

In 2024, AI-enabled disinformation, scams and fraud will disrupt lives, businesses and even democracy, as bad actors subvert candidates and elections. But I’m excited about AI’s growing capacity to fight back. AI will guard against deep fakes, cloned voices and social media bots, while enabling new mechanisms for authentication and transparency. AI models will be trained on large datasets for better accuracy and effectiveness. At the same time, cooperation between private sector organizations and government agencies will expand. This will help to raise awareness, ensure regulatory compliance and stop rogue actors from sowing confusion and mistrust.

GenAI transforms business tools

Cisco’s AI Readiness Index predicts that most organizations have at best one year to implement AI before falling behind. That’s because generative AI—and large language models (LLMs)—are poised to revolutionize how we interact with technology. In 2024, these technologies will become prevalent in consumer experiences. But business applications will transform as well, as corporate users demand more customization, personalization and intelligence—in everything from project management and software testing to compliance assessments and recruitment. B2B use cases will expand, with multi-modality combinations of various data types such as images, text and speech. Together with intelligence-processing algorithms, these could enable better outcomes in business planning, medicine and financial services. Companies that lag in adopting these technologies could pay a steep price in the coming year and beyond.

AI and energy networking, for ever-smarter buildings

Energy networking uses DC voltages from the network to power all manner of devices—for example, in a smart factory, building or office. Combine that with AI, internet-of-things sensors and real-time data insights, and organizations can regulate energy usage in ever more efficient ways, while accelerating toward their net-zero targets. At lower voltages than AC power, DC energy networking also reduces the embodied carbon created in the manufacture and transport of heavy steel and copper cables. Expect energy networking to be adopted in a variety of industries and workspaces in 2024.

Courtesy of AI: better software, happier developers

We all depend on software as never before. So, making it easier to develop, test and implement will benefit everyone. AI can make it happen. As it stands today, developers are stressed. But in 2024, GenAI and AI assistants will enable developers to spend less time on tedious tasks like counting lines of code and more time understanding customer needs and creating creative, visionary solutions. It’s a great example of how AI does not have to replace workers, but rather support them to do great things.

A turning point for quantum

Along with AI, quantum computing promises its own revolution—in networking, security and much more. And while its major impact may be a few years off, smart organizations are getting ahead. In 2024, expect to see early adoption of post-quantum cryptography (PQC). This is a software-based approach to protect data from future quantum-based attacks. Quantum networking solutions are also being explored by companies like Cisco. These will harness and connect the coming power of quantum computers in more easily scalable ways.

2024 won’t be without steep challenges—and a breakneck pace of change. But there will be extraordinary opportunities. Especially if we work together to help create a world that’s more sustainable, inclusive and equitable.

It’s going to be an exciting year!

CNBC

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